Designed by M's AL13 Aluminum Bumper Is For The iPhone 5 Purist

Designed by M started the development of the AL13 aluminum bumper case as a Kickstarter project asking for US$20,000. Within one week US$86,250 had been pledged. The iPhone 5 purists who wanted to protect their phones without adding a clunky case were obviously interested. I asked Lester Mapp, the creator of this product, what prompted the development. I doubted that he could have foreseen so much interest prior to putting it out on Kickstarter. Mr. Mapp responded:

"Before we developed AL13, we were all pretty anti-case when it came to our own iPhones. We just hadn’t found anything out there that we thought complimented the phone. We wanted to make something that could offer some level of protection but still wouldn’t change the look of the phone. The whole point of having an having an iPhone...not something that used to look like an iPhone before you put a case on it. Apple spent lots of time and money making the iPhone thinner and lighter, so why would you want to cover it up with something that would add bulk and weight? AL13 is slim, extremely lightweight and built to blend in with the look of the iPhone."

AL-13 Bumper iPhone 5 case

The bumper is made from lightweight aerospace aluminum. It has an anodized finish and chamfered (symmetrical sloping) edges that matches the look of the iPhone 5. It is lined on the inside to protect the phone and weighs only 14 grams.

Side view of bumper compared to iPhone 5


The case is composed of two pieces, the bumper itself, and a sliding cover that glides on and locks in place. Once locked in place, it is somewhat difficult to remove. The product includes a protective film for the back and an anti-scratch, anti-fingerprint and anti-glare polyurethane screen protector.

Sliding cover and bumper


Back view of bumper and sliding cover locked in place

The bumper is available in gun metal, slate black, blue, silver, and red. The black bumper on the black phone is virtually invisible.

The Packaging

This product has very unusual packaging. It is striking and very attractive. It arrives nestled in a metal box with a sliding lid.

Package - partially opened

I complimented Mr. Mapp on the packaging, but asked what effect it has on the price of the product. His response was interesting:

"AL13 is a premium product and we felt that the packaging should reflect that. Other bumpers of a similar quality retail for almost $150... and you don’t get that kind of packaging. AL13 is priced at $79. For that price you get not only a high quality product made with great craftsmanship and extreme attention to detail, you get a cool reusable metal case that you can store cables and headphones in when you travel, or just use as additional desk storage. We really wanted to give our customers a “wow” experience, so that they feel they have gotten value for the money they spent."

He is correct that the box, which measures 4 x 6 x 1.5-inches (10.2 x 15.2 x 3.8 cm) can be used in numerous ways.

Using the Product

The design of this case makes it extremely easy to install. You just gently lay the phone in the bumper, lining up the holes appropriately, and then slide on the cover until it clicks in place. The cover is basically invisible to the point that I did not even realize there were two parts when I first picked it up.

When I had to remove the case, which I have to do because of my job, it was hard to do without scratching my phone, but I assume the normal user will not face this problem.

Once the case was in place, it was quite difficult to tell that a bumper was being used unless I looked on the back of the iPhone where there is a slight overlap. Of course, had I been testing a red one, it would have been more noticeable.

Do I Recommend it?

I do. If iPhone 5 purity is part of your consciousness, then I believe you will know you have found your solution, and it is certainly well designed and well made. You will not have to worry about the bumper coming off, and it offers good corner protection.

Product: AL13 iPhone 5 Bumper Case

Company: Designed by M

List Price: US$79.00



Case provides basic protection for iPhone 5 without interferring with its aesthetics.


Once installed, the case is difficult to remove. Potential to scratch the iPhone.